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Skills shortage a result of National's complacency

The fact that there is still a severe shortage of skilled tradespeople, despite a growth in the number of apprentices, is a result of National’s failure to plan and develop the workforce, Grant Robertson, Labour Employment, Skills and Training
Spokesperson says.

"The building and construction industry training organisation (BCITO) has said today that the industry simply does not have the skilled staff needed to meet demand. While they are taking on more and more apprentices the Government’s complacency in the last few years has seen a yawning skills gap open up.

"Following the Canterbury earthquakes Labour joined others in pointing out there was a desperate need to train people for the rebuild right away. National sat on its hands for two years and New Zealand now has is a shortage that can only be filled by immigration.

"It was a similar story during the global financial crisis with many businesses struggling to take on apprentices. With some support from government they could have ensured there was a skilled workforce ready for when the economy started to grow.

"Labour will invest in skills and training through initiatives such as the ‘dole for apprenticeship’ scheme that will give an employer the equivalent of the dole to take on an apprentice, extra trade training places and expansion of successful programmes such as Gateway.

"To make matters worse National has removed the role and funding for skills leadership from Industry Training Organisations. That role is essential in ensuring the workforce needs of an industry are planned for and Labour is committed to restoring it.

"We believe it is the job of government to show some leadership and work as a partner with business so we have the skilled workforce to meet the needs of tomorrow, not simply sit back and hope for the best,” Grant Robertson said.